Bustle Digital Group is the latest media company having to make cuts as the coronavirus continues to take its toll on the already fragile sector.
The publisher of Bustle, Romper and Mic said Friday that it has laid off 24 staffers across its brands, implemented a tiered salary reduction for most employees and shuttered The Outline, the Millennial-focused, general interest news site.
“The unprecedented impact of COVID-19 has forced us to make some tough business decisions,” a spokeswoman said.
Seven of the layoffs were at The Outline. Out of the entire team, only Josh Topolsky, who founded it in 2015, will stay on at the company in his role as editor in chief of its culture & innovation portfolio, encompassing sites Inverse, Mic and Input. Until Friday, that also included The Outline.
The team, which was working from home due to COVID-19, was informed of the decision to close the site Friday morning on a call.
The Outline’s executive editor, Leah Finnegan, broke the news on Twitter, writing “farewell @outline. we have all been laid off.” “I’ve been at @outline since before it began. editing it was the best job, and with the best team, hire them, give them money, have them write and edit for you,” she added in another tweet.
She told WWD that given the circumstances it’s “understandable why it’s happening, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less devastating.”
BDG acquired the-then floundering The Outline last May for an undisclosed sum, fitting in with its strategy purchasing sites that were either dormant or about to be, including Gawker and Mic. Indeed, before the sale it was dogged by rumors that a closure was imminent.
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Unlike other sites BDG acquired that it tried to revive with varying degrees of success, it didn’t make many major changes to The Outline and instead, took much of its technology to develop a new tech and consumer web site, Input.
BDG also owns women’s lifestyle site The Zoe Report, Elite Daily and Nylon. It’s not known where the other staff cuts were made apart from that one staffer at Inverse was laid off earlier this week.
Also having to make difficult decisions Friday was Fashionista. Staff at the fashion website were asked to take “a not-insignificant” salary- and hours-reduction for the foreseeable future. In addition, it has frozen all freelance commissions and expenses.
“When it comes to revenue, the proverbial bottom has fallen out,” its editor in chief Tyler McCall explained in a blog post, adding that breaking the news to her team was not easy. “When I called my team to explain the personal sacrifices being asked of them to keep us all going, I started crying — not at the hard numbers part, but at the part where I thanked them for working so tirelessly and caring so much about Fashionista,” she said.
BDG and Fashionista followed Gannett, Maven Media and Vice Media, which all had to make staff or pay cuts or both this week.
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